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New African American Heritage Museum Opens in Bardstown

Bill Sheckles

A new museum in Bardstown is intended to help fill in some gaps in the town’s history. The Bardstown-Nelson County African American Heritage Museum opened June 10.

In his work as a truancy officer for Bardstown City Schools, Bill Sheckles realized that many young people don’t know about the contributions African Americans have made to the city in all walks of life. 

Sheckles is a city councilman and former Bardstown Mayor who coordinated the development of the Bardstown-Nelson County African American Heritage Museum. 

The museum is located in an historic building constructed circa 1812 that’s currently the First Baptist Church.

The church has served many religious denominations over the decades and has a unique architectural design. The sanctuary is on the second floor, so the available space on the first floor provides good public access to Bardstown’s newest museum.

Sheckles said display cases offer insight into the engagement of Black residents in all aspects of the community.

“Education, athletes, elected officials, church histories, military histories, civic groups, Black businesses former and current,” said Sheckles.

Sheckles says with the pandemic easing and students expected to be back in the classroom in the fall, he’d like to see students and teachers visit the museum as part of their studies. 

The museum is currently open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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